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Girl disguised as a boy polishes shoes for a living in PM Modi's Gujarat
PM Narendra Modi has been going on and on about his "Beti bachao, beti padhao" initiative, which means that the girl child should be saved and educated for the betterment of society, but in his own state, Gujarat, a girl child is neglected and cannot even dream of going to school.

PM Modi should realize that just like charity, redemption too begins from home. This sad story is about a 13-year old girl, Payal Baria, who everyday disguises as a boy and polishes shoes to feed her family and educate her brother in the Sola area of Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

Payal's father Manoj, died after an epileptic fit in 2001, when she was just three years old. Payal's grandparents usurped their property in Rajasthan and threw the family out, after Payal's father died. Her mother migrated to Gujarat with the family and started begging near LG Hospital to feed them.

Payal has four siblings, out of which two are married. Her 30-year old elder brother Sunil works as a guard in a factory and earns Rs 8,000 a month, but refuses to support the family. Payal is now the sole bread winner of the family, and earns Rs 150 a day by polishing people's shoes. She also works extra time at a local incense making unit, so that she can educate her younger brother, Jigar.

Although Payal herself has never been to school, she toils hard so that at least her brother can attend school. Payal has to earn enough everyday to ensure that her family does not go to sleep hungry. She has been polishing shoes to support the family for the past 10 years. Payal and her family live in a tent made out of torn canvas on a road in Sola.

Fearing exploitation and violence against women, her mother Anita cut her hair short to make Payal look like a boy. Payal, the little girl says with tears in her eyes, "My life started as an unwanted child. My father did not want a third daughter. My mother had to do petty jobs to feed me."

This story is a classic example of age old misconceptions which are deep rooted in our Indian society, that only sons can support families and carry on the family name and honour. In Payal's case, exactly the reverse is happening, as her brother, who is capable of supporting the family chooses to neglect them, while Payal in spite of being a girl is polishing shoes at this tender age to educate her younger brother. How else can irony be defined?

Although deprived of everything herself, the girl has a big heart and wants to adopt and nurture neglected children in the future. 

Announcing programs and initiatives on TV to seek attention is one thing, but implementing them practically is totally another. Let us hope that this story serves as an eye opener for all and some action is taken to stop this neglect of the girl child. 

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